By Nasrin Zahed
The Port Jefferson School District held its second Board of Education meeting of the 2023-24 school year Tuesday, Sept. 12, highlighting the success of districtwide summer programs and the expansion of year-round enrichment opportunities.
Jodi Cahill, director of special education, presented a detailed recount of the Extended School Year Summer Program. It is a 30-day program geared for students K-8 with moderate to severe disabilities to maintain skill levels acquired in the previous school year and prevent summer regression. This program is recommended to students based on their individualized education plans, known as IEPs.
Cahill emphasized that while this program is tailored as a continued learning opportunity for students to carry skills from last June into the following school year, it is still fun and engaging. Weekly curriculum themes, stimulating activities and field trips were in place to maintain and encourage student engagement.
Michael Caravello, music and fine arts director, took to the floor to discuss the Summer Music Camp, congratulating the program on 21 years of operation. The camp caters to students at all levels of musical talent to both prepare them for entrance and continued participation in band and orchestra programs. It also offers ukulele classes and a NYSSMA jumpstart program.
Caravello added that the camp aimed to provide students with a relaxing and open atmosphere to begin or continue their exploration of music while teaching the importance of collaboration and problem-solving among peers.
Adam Sherrard, director of health, physical education and athletics, presented on the success of the Athletic Summer Camps’ second year of running. With 20 camps advertised to students, the total offerings doubled from the program’s initial rollout in 2021-22. Over 80 student volunteers aided coaches and instructors in facilitating these programs, some even being recent graduates who took pleasure in participating.
The camps served as forums for students to be active, work on personal health and form connections between older and younger peers.
The summer programs ebbed to a close with the Summer Academic Enrichment Program. Two camps were offered to students grades six to 12, introducing them to the world of coding and drones. The drone camp was made possible by a grant proposal to the Port Jefferson Royal Education Foundation, providing $2,000 for the district that was used to purchase 10 drones for student use.
Robert Neidig, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said that the hope is now to expand summer programs to create more opportunities for students from the elementary level and beyond.
He stated that the district has applied to the state to use Title IV federal financial funding to create enrichment opportunities throughout the academic school year, with approval pending.
The Board of Education will reconvene on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m.